Friday, July 01, 2016


Duel: Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words. Dennis Brindell Fradin. Illustrated by Larry Day. 2008. Walker. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The two enemies had much in common, starting with difficult childhoods.

Premise/plot: A picture book biography focusing on the lives of two founding fathers, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. The book slowly but surely builds its way towards the DUEL between the two men; the duel that will end the life of one and ruin the career of the other. As part of the context for understanding the duel, a little bit of American history is unpacked for readers, highlighting the roles both men had during American's war for independence and the turbulent decades afterwards as the United States of America came into existence. The book illustrates that politics always involves DRAMA.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I really do. I think it is definitely a picture book for older readers though. Not all picture books are intended as fun readalouds for preschoolers and kindergartners. The text keeps the story moving--it's quite lively at times. The author notes that both men were to blame for the duel.

I definitely liked the illustrations by Larry Day.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


My thoughts on Call the Midwife, season 1

Call the Midwife (2012)
Series 1 = 6 episodes

Jenny Lee = Jessica Raine
Trixie Franklin = Helen George
Cynthia Miller = Bryony Hannah
Chummy (Camilla Fortescue-Cholmondeley-Browne) = Miranda Hart
Sister Julienne = Jenny Agutter
Sister Monica Joan = Judy Parfitt
Sister Evangelina = Pam Ferris
Sister Bernadette (aka Shelagh) = Laura Main
Dr. Patrick Turner = Stephen McGann
Timothy Turner = Max Macmillan
PC Peter Noakes = Ben Caplan
Fred Buckle = Cliff Parisi

I love, love, love Call the Midwife. The way some people gush on and on about Downton Abbey is how I feel about this show. I just truly LOVE and ADORE it. The first series opens in 1957.

Episode one introduces us to Jenny Lee a nurse and midwife newly assigned to Nonnatus House, a nursing convent in East London. The first person she meets is Sister Monica Joan, the eldest and most eccentric resident at Nonnatus House. She's no longer an active midwife. But she has plenty of stories to tell. And some of them even make sense. Jenny meets most of the others as well: Trixie, Cynthia, Sister Julienne, Sister Evangelina, Sister Bernadette. Viewers meet Conchita Warren and her family. She is about to have her twenty-fifth child!!! She doesn't speak a word of English, her husband doesn't speak a word of Spanish.

Episode two introduces us to Chummy. Chummy just may be one of my FAVORITE, FAVORITE characters. When she arrives, she has some difficulties to say the least. She "barely" passed her test and still has some studying to do before feeling confident to work (deliver) on her own. She does NOT know how to ride a bicycle, and bicycles are how all the midwives get around the district. It's a must, but, it won't come easy! Also she has to sew her own uniforms since the largest size doesn't fit her. (She's VERY tall.) On one of her learning to ride excursions she literally runs into PC Peter Noakes, and, with a little help from Sister Evangelina (either in this episode or the next?) she finds herself with a boyfriend! Meanwhile, Jenny's case has her involved with a teen prostitute who desperately wants to keep her baby.

Episode three, Jenny's case is a NURSING one. She tends the leg wounds of an elderly soldier named Joe. This is another eye-opener for Jenny who still knows so little about poverty. Meanwhile, Trixie and Cynthia have a very interesting midwife case! I love the husband in this one. His reaction to the 'surprise' is so sweet.

Episode four, this episode may be the most DRAMATIC so far. A newborn baby--that Jenny delivered--is KIDNAPPED. Cynthia's case is equally dramatic in many ways. I think it provides a real clue into her character as well....

Episode five is a good, strong episode. Chummy and Peter's romance continues. He wants her to meet his mother. And she, I believe, sews a special dress for the occasion. But Fred's big scheme to get rich from raising a pig for bacon may just interfere. His pig is pregnant... And the midwives may just have to get involved. I just realized I haven't mentioned Fred yet. He's a HOOT and then some. He always has one scheme or another--whether raising pigs or quail or selling toffee apples--but technically he is the convent's handyman. Peggy is the cleaning woman at the convent. Her brother has cancer...and in seeking to nurse him, Jenny realizes that Peggy and her brother are more than brother and sister.

Episode six focuses on Sister Monica Joan...and her mental health. (She ends up on trial for theft). But Chummy also gets a lot of time in this episode. Her MOTHER comes to visit. And her mother is a CHARACTER and then some. Peter does not meet her mother's approval, and, so her romance is threatened. But Chummy's case may just inspire her to BE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY brave. This episode ends the season really WELL. (Chummy's case is super-super-dramatic. Delivering a set of triplets (when only one was expected!!!) in an apartment with no electricity at the moment.)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


2016 Challenges: Paris in July

Paris in July
Host: Thyme for Tea (sign up)
Duration: July 2016
My goal: 5 posts

What I Watch:

What I Listen To:

What I Read:

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, June 30, 2016

June Reflections

Stand-Out Books Read in June 2016
  1. The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. 153 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. When Green Becomes Tomatoes. Julie Fogliano. Illustrated by Julie Morstad. 2016. Roaring Brook Press. 56 pages. [Source: Library] [POETRY, CONCEPT BOOK OF SEASONS]
  3. Prairie Evers. Ellen Airgood. 2012. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Fantastic Mr. Fox. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1970. 96 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. By the Great Horn Spoon! Sid Fleischman. 1963. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. When Daddy Prays. Nikki Grimes. 2002. 32 pages. [Source: Library] [CHRISTIAN]
5 Decades "Visited" in June 2016

1. 1930s
2. 1950s
3. 1960s
4. 1970s
5. 1980s

Picture books:
  1. When Green Becomes Tomatoes. Julie Fogliano. Illustrated by Julie Morstad. 2016. Roaring Brook Press. 56 pages. [Source: Library] [POETRY, CONCEPT BOOK OF SEASONS]
  2. Barnacle is Bored. Jonathan Fenske. 2016. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Strictly No Elephants. Lisa Mantchev. Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Be A Friend. Salina Yoon. 2016. Bloomsbury. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. When Daddy Prays. Nikki Grimes. 2002. 32 pages. [Source: Library] [CHRISTIAN]
  6. Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator. Mo Willems. 2011. HarperCollins. 72 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. An Apple Pie for Dinner. Susan VanHecke. Illustrated by Carol Baicker-McKee. 2009. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Early readers and early chapter books:
  1. Frog and Toad Together. Arnold Lobel. 1972. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Frog and Toad All Year. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1976. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library] [SERIES BOOK]
  3. Days with Frog and Toad. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1979. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library] [SERIES BOOK]
Contemporary (general, realistic) fiction, all ages:
  1. The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. 153 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. Prairie Evers. Ellen Airgood. 2012. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. The Education of Ivy Blake. Ellen Airgood. 2015. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. The Truth of Me. Patricia MacLachlan. 2013. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Gidget. Frederick Kohner. 1957. 154 pages. [Source: Bought]
Speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.,) all ages:
  1. The World of Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest Shepard. 1926. 353 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Return of the King. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1955. 590 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Life As We Knew It. Susan Beth Pfeffer. 2006. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 352 pages. [9 hours, read by Emily Bauer] [Source: Review copy] [AUDIO BOOK]
  4. Flowers for Algernon. Daniel Keyes. 1966. 311 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Dragon, Dragon and Other Tales. John Gardner. Illustrated by Charles J. Shields. 1975. 73 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Gudgekin, The Thistle Girl. John Gardner. 1976. 55 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. Socks. Beverly Cleary. 1973. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. James and the Giant Peach. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1961. 146 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Fantastic Mr. Fox. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1970. 96 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. George's Marvelous Medicine. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1981. 89 pages. [Source: Library]
  11. The BFG. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1982. 199 pages. [Source: Library] 
  12. Matilda. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1988. 240 pages. [Source: Library] 
Historical Fictional, all ages:
  1. A Lion To Guard Us. Clyde Robert Bulla. 1981. 117 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. By the Great Horn Spoon! Sid Fleischman. 1963. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
Mysteries, all ages: 0

Classics, all ages:
  1. Bleak House. Charles Dickens. 1852-1853. 912 pages.  [Source: Bought] 
  2. Best In Children's Books. Volume 6. 1958. Nelson Doubleday. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Best in Children's Books, Volume 31. 1960. Nelson Doubleday. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]
Nonfiction, all ages: 0

Christian fiction:
  1. The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. 153 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  2. First Virtues for Toddlers. Mary Manz Simon. 2016. B&H. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. When Daddy Prays. Nikki Grimes. 2002. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian nonfiction: 
  1. The Joy Project. Tony Reinke. 2015. Desiring God. 122 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Five Points: Towards a Deeper Experience of God's Grace. John Piper. 2013. 94 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. Breaking the Islam Code. J.D. Greear. 2010. Harvest House. 176 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Five Love Languages of Children. Gary Chapman, D. Ross Campbell. 1995/2016. Moody Publishers. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5.  Exalting Jesus in Philippians. Tony Merida and Francis Chan. 2016. B&H. 209 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life. Ray Comfort. 2010. Living Waters. 128 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  7. How To Enjoy Reading Your Bible. Keith Ferrin. 2015. Bethany House. 176 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Seasons of Waiting. Betsy Childs Howard. 2016. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. Reading The Word of God In the Presence of God. Vern S. Poythress. 2016. Crossway. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


More Many Mini Reviews (Period Drama)

Madness of King George (1994)
I loved it and I hated it. I really pitied the King in many, many, many, many places. And the way he was treated by his doctors and by his SON and by some of the politicians was heartbreaking. There were a few scenes that just ANGERED ME. That being said, the KING could be a trouble-maker. This film was beautiful at times. But I really wish it had had subtitles. I don't really think it's appropriate to call it "funny and entertaining."

Von Trapp Family: A Life of Music (2016)
So glad I watched this one. It is one of those movies with an embedded flashback. The "current" story has Agathe reaching out to her great niece--a teenager, I believe--who is determined to run away from her "mean" father and stepmother. She shares her life story with her, and, that life story is, of course, of the Von Trapp Family. It is a very different movie than The Sound of Music. I really enjoyed this one for the most part.

Jane Eyre (1944)
Is this my absolute favorite adaptation of Jane Eyre??? Probably not. But Orson Welles is super-charismatic and this one is very gothic. I really do love it! It may not be faithful to the book, but, as a movie it excels!!!

The Seventh Cross (1944)
DRAMA at its finest. This is set in Nazi Germany and it's INTENSE but oh-so-good. It's about seven prisoners who escape and what happens to them all....

Nicholas Nickleby (1977)
My friend was right. This is a GREAT, GREAT version of Nicholas Nickleby. Yes, it is long. But it is funny and charming in places. One always knows which characters to boo and hiss with Dickens, and which to just laugh at. I would recommend this version over the one I reviewed previously!!!

She Stoops to Conquer (2009)
I love this one. I've seen it twice now. And it is very funny. You wouldn't think a centuries-old play would make you laugh, but, it does!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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